(In the Life of the Church)
June 15, 2014
(While Josh is away on sabbatical, Craig will be writing the newsletter. Which means you should expect less Harry Potter and more Hank Williams.)
(Yesterday was Friday, the day I usually write the newsletter. Instead of writing the newsletter, I was having a great time with a group of guys from UBC waiting in line for Franklin BBQ. We had a wonderful time, a "thin veil" moment as Marshall noted. But since the veil was especially thin, I didn't write the newsletter. Instead of forcing something on you this Saturday morning, I've decided to share with you a blog post I wrote in the summer of 2010, shortly after I came on staff at UBC.)
After a few short weeks in Waco I had the distinct impression that I would continue to be on the move. People here were strange. The job I was in was vastly different than the exact same position I held previously at another place. Friends who had come here at the same time, but for different reasons, began to separate and make lives for themselves in their respective corners of this medium-sized city. That summer was more than just hot. It was miserable.
Then in August of that year things were put into motion that would prove to be watershed moments in my life. A friend found a particular church and told me about it. I remember the moment he brought a sheet of paper with the church's values and mission statement on it to my apartment to show me. He said he really thought I should check it out. So I did, and I am glad I did. Later that week I met the pastor of the church who quickly became one of my closest friends.
This city, however, remained strange. I bounced around between jobs and seminary and short-but-excruciating stints of unemployment. Were it not for my burgeoning love for, and involvement in, that church over on Dutton Avenue, I probably would have bolted. But I stayed. The gravitational pull of this place pulled me in and held me close. The odd things about this city ceased to be odd to me. Or perhaps the oddness began to seep into my pores until I no longer saw it as odd. Quirky became normal.
Of course there was an elderly black man who may or may not think he is the president who walks down the street waving at everyone he sees.
Of course North means East and South means West.
Of course there are Mexican/Chinese restaurants, as well as dives called "Health Camp" that have absolutely nothing healthy on their menu.
I ended up at a job that was sometimes meaningful, even joyful, other times a living-hell. Yet all the time it was a hub of the city that brought people from all geographic, social, and economic corners of Waco to one place, around books. I met JoAnn, who probably lived life a little too fully in the 1960's, and Dorothy, the widow of a missionary from Japan who expected me to hug her when she expressed anger at her husband leaving so early. I became good friends with Rodeo Steve, so named because of his past as a cowboy. Steve is approaching 70 and doesn't look a day over 45, and is deeply in love with Mickey. I was the officiant at their wedding. Then there was the cranky old lawyer who had an insatiable appetite for very specific types of erotica, as well as the old Baylor professor who died of lung cancer and would break out into poetry whenever she pleased. The broken people who fill the pages of Chekhov and O'Connor began to fill the pages of my own life.
These people became my home.
Then those of us who had come here together, yet had grown apart, began to find each other again. It was as if we had been separated, on our own journeys of discovery, and had returned to tell about what we had found, and also about how much we missed each other.
And that church continued to wedge its way into my life as I wedged my way into it. Life was lived, energy was created, and tragedy hit, leaving us without the pastor and friend who I had become so close to years before. But we continued to find each other in many ways-- through conflict, tears, beer, the Bible, and the general passing of time.
I returned to school and began to feel young again. New possibilities emerged. New friendships developed. A sense of calm slowly returned after years of grieving the loss of my friend. The hole was still there, but it became less raw, easier to navigate around. What seemed inevitable was that my time in this city I had grown to love was slowly coming to an end, as it isn't wise to spend time and money on a seminary degree if you aren't prepared to explore your calling wherever it may lead.
But the calling was closer than I suspected. That church that I had walked alongside for years asked me to be with them a little longer, and I accepted. And I sit here now, on the eve of my tenth year in this place, thankful. It's really all I can be. Ten years is a long time, and yet I still feel so young. There are corners of this city, people in these neighborhoods, who are yet to be discovered. I've got time.
When you go looking for community, be careful. It may find you.
June 22-- 6:00pm.
Bring your favorite summer side dish or main dish
We have drinks covered, and we only need six people to sign up for desserts. If you want to bring a dessert, sign up in the foyer.
Waco Dive for Wednesday, June 18th will be at Crucero. 2505 Robinson Drive. (Take the circle and get off on the Robinson exit. Crucero is past the new Stripes gas station on the right.
We have had a great and informative time the past couple of weeks talking to Wade Mackey about the Enneagram. There is a real sense of people understanding more about those in their lives than they did before. You are welcome to step in and join us at any time! We meet in the Backside at 6:00 on Wednesdays to eat dinner (bring your own,) and begin the conversation at 6:30. Hope you can join us!
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Do you have a question about UBC’s financial affairs? Please feel free to contact any of your finance team members.
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